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About Minerals

Birthstone of August

Peridot (pronounced pair-a-doe) is a gem variety of olivine. Peridot is an ancient and yet currently very popular gemstone. It was found even in Egyptian jewelry from early second millennium BC. The stones used in those days came from an occurrence on a little volcanic island in the Red Sea, about 45 miles off the Egyptian coast. Peridot is also a very modem stone, for only a few years ago Peridot occurrences were discovered in the Kashmir region, and the stones from there show a unique beauty of color and transparency, so that the image of the stone, which was somewhat dulled over the ages, has received an efficient polishing.

The ancient Romans were already quite fond of the gemstone and coveted the brilliant green sparkle, which does not change either in artificial light. They names the stone "Evening Emerald" since its green color did not darken at night but was still visible by lamplight. Legend has it that it was a favorite of Cleopatra. Peridot is found in Europe in many medieval Churches decorating several treasures, like the Cologne Cathedral (more then 200 carats in size adorn the shrine of the three magi.) In the era of Baroque the deep green gemstone experienced another short flourishing, before it became forgotten.

But suddenly, around the middle of the 1990's Peridot was a great sensation on the Gemstone Trade Fairs all over the world. The reason: In Pakistan there had been found a sensationally rich occurrence of the finest Peridot on a rough mountain side, in about 13 and a half feet. The extremely hard climatic conditions only allow mining to go on through the summer months an yet the unusually large and fine crystals and rocks were brought down into the valley. These stones were of finer quality then anything else ever seen, and the occurrence proved so rich that the high demand can be met without a problem.

The depth of green depends on iron. The gemstone is actually known by three names: Peridot, Chrysalis (derived from the Greek word "goldstone") and Olivin, because Peridot is the gemstone variety of the Olivin mineral. In the gemstone trade, it is generally called Peridot, a name derived from the Greek "peridona' meaning something like "giving plenty". Peridot is one of the few gemstones that exist in one color. Finest traces of iron account for the deep green color with a slight golden hue. Chemically Peridot is just an iron-magnesium-silicate, and the intensity of color depends on the amount of iron it contains.

Peridot is not especially hard- it is about 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs' scale. Peridot-Car's Eye and Star-Peridot are some of the rarer versions.

The most beautiful stones come from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. Peridot as a gemstone also exists in Myanmar, China, USA, Africa, and Australia. Stones from East Burma, today's Myanmar, show a vivid green with fine silky inclusions.

Information paraphrased from